Thailand: Judicial harassment against Ms. Suchanee Cloitre

27/12/2019
Urgent Appeal
en th
© Youtube

THA 003 / 1219 / OBS 114
Sentencing / Judicial harassment
Thailand
December 27, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Thailand.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the judicial harassment against former Voice TV reporter Ms. Suchanee Cloitre, in relation to a tweet she posted on September 14, 2017, regarding labour rights abuses by the Thai poultry company Thammakaset Co., Ltd[1].

According to the information received, on December 24, 2019, the Lopburi Provincial Court found Ms. Suchanee guilty of “defamation” (Article 326 of the Thai Criminal Code) and “libel” (Article 328) and sentenced her to two years in prison.

The trial and conviction of Ms. Suchanee stems from a complaint filed by the Thai poultry company Thammakaset Co., Ltd. with the Lopburi Provincial Court on March 1, 2019, in relation to the above-mentioned tweet.

After the sentence, Ms. Suchanee was released on a 75,000 Baht (approximately 2,250 Euros) bail. Ms. Suchanee will appeal the verdict.

On June 17, 2019, during the pre-trial phase, Ms. Suchanee’s lawyer submitted to the court a motion to request the dismissal of the case under Section 165/2 of the Criminal Procedure Code, alleging that Thammakaset’s criminal complaint lacked merit because it amounted to judicial harassment against a human rights defender. However, the court refused to consider the motion.

The Observatory notes that on October 16, 2018, the Lopburi Public Prosecutor’s Office decided not to prosecute a similar case that stemmed from a criminal defamation complaint that Thammakaset filed with the Lopburi police against Ms. Suchanee.

The Observatory recalls that Thammakaset has filed at least two dozen criminal and civil cases against a total of more than 20 defendants, including human rights defenders, workers, and journalists for alleged defamation of the company[2]. Human rights defenders targeted by Thammakaset include Mr. Andy Hall[3], Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri, Mr. Nan Win[4], and Ms. Angkhana Neelapaijit[5].

The Observatory also recalls that on April 4, 2018, at the end of its 10-day visit to Thailand, the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Business and Human Rights issued a statement that urged the Thai government to “ensure that defamation cases are not used by businesses as a tool to undermine legitimate rights and freedoms of affected rights holders, [civil society organizations] and human rights defenders.”

The Observatory condemns the prison sentence and ongoing judicial harassment against Ms. Suchanee Cloitreas they seem to be only aimed at punishing her for the legitimate exercise of her right to freedom of expression. The Observatory calls on Thai authorities to immediately put an end to any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms. Suchanee Cloitre and all other human rights defenders targeted by civil and criminal defamation complaints filed by Thammakaset.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Thailand asking them to:

i. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms. Suchanee Cloitre, and all other human rights defenders targeted by Thammakaset;

ii. Ensure in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Thailand are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance or fear of reprisals;

iii. Guarantee in all circumstances the right to freedom of opinion and expression guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR);

iv. Repeal criminal defamation provisions (Articles 326 and 328 of the Criminal Code);

v. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular Articles 1, and 12;

vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments to which Thailand is a State party.

Addresses:

Mr. Prayuth Chan-ocha, Prime Minister of Thailand, Fax: +66 (0) 2 282 5131
Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Fax: +66 (0) 2 643 5320; Email: minister@mfa.go.th
Mr. Somsak Thepsutin, Minister of Justice of Thailand, Fax: +66 (0) 2 953 0503
Pol Gen Chaktip Chaijinda, Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police, Fax: +66 (0) 2 251 5956 / +66 (0) 2 251 8702
Mr. Wat Tingsamit, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, Email: help@nhrc.or.th
H.E. Mr. Thani Thongphakdi, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 715 10 00 / 10 02; Email: mission.thailand@ties.itu.int
Embassy of Thailand in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 648 30 66; Email: thaibxl@pophost.eunet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Thailand in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, December 27, 2019

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel and fax FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29

___

[1]In August 2016, Thailand’s Department of Labour Protection and Welfare ordered Thammakaset to pay workers affected by labour rights violations (forced to work up to 20 hours per day without a day off for 40 or more days in a row, paid less than the minimum wage, provided with no overtime compensation, confiscated their identity documents) a total of 1.7 million Baht (approximately 50,900 Euros) in compensation and damages. The money was only handed over in 2019. Ms. Suchanee Cloitre’s tweet made reference to this decision.
[2]See the Observatory Factsheet, “Thammakaset vs. human rights defenders and workers in Thailand”, published on May 23, 2019: https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/thailand-thammakaset-must-end-its-judicial-harassment-of-human-rights
[3]See Observatory Urgent Appeal THA 003 / 0815 / OBS 067.5, published on May 23, 2019.
[4]See Observatory Urgent Appeal THA 005 / 1118 / OBS 137.1, published on March 28, 2019.
[5]See Observatory Urgent Appeal THA 002 / 1119 / OBS 098, published on November 27, 2019.

Read more
appelobs